Urbanisation of the Rural Landscape: Assessing the Effects and Coping Mechanisms in Peri-Urban Kumas

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The growth of suburbs has been the clearest expression of expanding urban areas. Diverse opinions have been expressed about the effects of the horizontal expansion of urban areas on the adjoining rural areas. While one school of thought sees urbanisation as a destructive agent depleting rural resources and displacing rural livelihoods without providing alternatives, another school of thought argues that urbanisation provides opportunities that promote growth and development in the adjoining areas through transformation in local economies leading to greater entrepreneurism. This study explores the effects of urbanisation and coping mechanisms in peri-urban Kumasi. Three communities within a 20 km radius from the city were selected to represent peri-urban Kumasi. Household survey, key informants interviews and focus group discussions were used as data collection tools to assess the situation. Quantitative data analyses was done with SPSS, and the results presented in the form of tables, graphs and charts while direct quotations from respondents were used to present qualitative data. Moreover, satellite images were analysed to establish the relationship between urbanisation and land cover changes. The results from the study revealed that the expansion of Kumasi has presented constraints and opportunities to people living in peripheral villages. Key among the problems identified were land use changes from agricultural to residential buildings with negative implications for agriculture. The research has shown that there has been a reduction in the number of people engaged in the agricultural sector. However, while agricultural activities are increasingly declining, new livelihood types are evolving in response to urbanisation. Increase in non-farm job opportunities, infrastructure development and greater access to knowledge and skills in the study areas are noteworthy. Trading has become an important income generating activity, especially for women in the communities studied. The evolution of new livelihood activities has culminated in the adoption of both farm and non-farm livelihood strategies including diversification, intensification and migration to cope with the effects of urbanisation. It was discovered from the study that interventions from local and traditional institutions are in the form of providing infrastructure facilities such as roads, classroom blocks, among others to support residents. However, these interventions are targeted at the general population and not with the primary aim of supporting households whose farmlands have been converted to houses. Drawing on the results from the study, the study suggests that any future interventions should better integrate and develop farm and non-farm livelihoods through the adoption of a more pro-active, holistic and systematic approach to minimise the negative effects of urbanisation on peri-urban household livelihood through research, capacity building/skill development, development of alternative means of livelihood and implementation of the national urban policy and Land Administration Programme.
A Thesis Submitted to the Department of Geography and Rural Development, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi in partial Fulfilment for the award of the Master of Philosophy (Mphil) Degree in Geography and Rural Development, March-2013